Valley Public Radio News

Hear local reports on the economy, government, education, health and the environment on Valley Public Radio during All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Valley Edition. 

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Government & Politics
4:42 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Swearengin Focuses On Business, Industry Growth in 'State of City' Speech

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin delivers her 2013 "State of the City" address

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the the city's economy is on the road to recovery in 2013, thanks in part to growth in the local food processing sector.  

"I'm telling you that things are getting good around here when it comes to industrial expansion and expanding our food business," Swearengin told the crowd. 

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Government & Politics
12:21 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Democrats Pushing to Limit Prop 13

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Some Democrats at the Capitol are attempting to chip away at California’s fabled Prop 13. But supporters of the property tax limiting measure are digging in to fight back. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Proposition 13 limits property taxes in California. But it also requires a two-thirds vote of the public to increase any special taxes. Six Democratic sponsored bills making their way through the Senate would lower that voter requirement to 55 percent approval.

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Government & Politics
5:43 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Attorney For Family Of Bakersfield Beating Victim Speaks Out

Credit Kern County Sheriff's Department

The attorney representing the family of the man who was fatally beaten by Kern County Sheriffs deputies May 8 is speaking out today. In an interview with Valley Public Radio, David Cohn said that the way the agencies are handling the case is appalling.

“Our biggest concern is that evidence, and primarily videos that were on cell phones was likely to altered, lost or destroyed and essentially our biggest fears have now become a reality.”

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Government & Politics
12:35 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Brown Proceeds With Caution on May Budget Revise

California Governor Jerry Brown has released an updated budget proposal that includes more money for schools this year….and less overall spending next year.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California is expecting to end the fiscal year with a few billion dollars more than anticipated. Governor Jerry Brown is proposing spending the money on schools, but not much else. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on Brown’s May budget revision.

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Government & Politics
4:10 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Lawmakers React to Brown's Budget Revision

Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

Republicans at the State Capitol are pleased Governor Jerry Brown is taking a more moderate approach to spending California’s budget surplus. But they still have some criticisms. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

No formal rainy day fund, no acknowledgement of possible union pay raises, high taxes that hurt business. State Republicans listed those as among their top concerns with the Governor’s May budget revision.

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Health Care
4:01 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Brown's New Budget Calls for State-Based Medi-Cal Expansion

California Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal shows clear intent for a state-based Medi-Cal expansion under the Affordable Care Act. January’s budget suggested a possible county-led expansion.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 California Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal shows clear intent for a state-based Medi-Cal expansion under the Affordable Care Act. January’s budget suggested a possible county-led expansion.  

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley says the budget also proposes a way the state will seek to capture money counties currently use to treat the uninsured.   

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Government & Politics
3:08 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Brown's Updated Budget Proposal: More Money to Schools, But Not Much Else

California Governor Jerry Brown is proposing an updated budget that he says is balanced, solid and maintains fiscal discipline against efforts to restore years of deep budget cuts.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown has released an updated budget proposal that includes more money for schools this year, and less overall spending next year. 

His spending plan for the fiscal year that starts in July includes about $1.3 billion less than his January proposal.  Brown says the state’s economic picture has weakened due to the federal sequester and the federal payroll tax change.

“We have climbed out of a hole with a Proposition 30 tax. That is good, but this is not the time to break out the champagne,” says Brown.

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Arts & Culture
9:38 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Fresno's Swede Fest Celebrates Cinema, Do-It-Yourself Style

Credit http://swedefest.com/

On Sunday May 19th, Fresno's Tower Theatre will feature some of Hollywood's biggest films. But you aren't likely to see many stars or Oscar winners on the screen. Instead, Swede Fest 11 will feature a collection of 20 low-budget, summarized recreations of Hollywood's most popular movies, all shot by amateur filmmakers.

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Environment
1:21 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

New Google Tool Shows Remarkable Timelapse of Fresno Growth Since 1984

A screen capture of a satellite based timelapse of Fresno's suburban growth from 1984 - 2012
Credit http://earthengine.google.org/timelapse

A new timelapse tool released this month by Google provides Fresno residents with a stark reminder of just how quickly much of the city's nearby agriculture land has been replaced by homes, shopping centers and freeways. 

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Health
10:04 am
Mon May 13, 2013

California Soda Tax Proposal Sparks Debate

Credit Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers are considering a measure that would tax sugary drinks a penny per fluid ounce. The proposal is intended to cap soda consumption in order to reduce obesity rates. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento has found a range of opinions on the soda tax.

It’s a hot afternoon in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood. Teenagers are out of school for the day. Some have beverages in their hands. Kirk Allen is sixteen years old:

"What are you drinkin’?" "Tiki punch, Shasta."

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Government & Politics
6:19 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Steinberg: Addressing Mental Health Can Reduce Prison Overcrowding

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) discusses his proposals to increase crisis access to mental health services at a Capitol news conference Tuesday.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The top Democrat in the California Senate is calling for more crisis access to mental health services to help reduce the state’s overcrowded prisons. 

But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the proposals likely wouldn’t satisfy a federal court order to reduce the state’s prison population.

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Environment
6:14 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Brown Proposes Changes to Prop 65 Warning Signs

A Proposition 65 mandated warning sign sits inside a Starbucks in Fresno, CA.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

It’s hard to go anywhere in California without seeing a little signs warning about potentially hazardous chemicals. Now Governor Jerry Brown wants to give those signs an update. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Proposition 65 requires California businesses to post warnings about potentially hazardous chemicals in the air. The voter approved law has been in place since 1986. Now Governor Jerry Brown wants the warnings to be more specific and he wants to modify the law requiring where the signs are posted.

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Education
11:36 am
Tue May 7, 2013

New Approach To Classroom Discipline Pays Off at Fresno's Yosemite Middle School

Yosemite Middle School in Fresno has seen a new approach to classroom discipline pay big results.
Credit Fresno Unified School District

Teacher Jenna Perry’s 7th grade English class at Fresno Unified’s Yosemite Middle School sounds like most others. Kids work to finish up their assignments, as the period is about to end. But there is something that makes her classroom different.

“Ok, before we leave today, let’s go over our class goal today. Somebody tell me, should we earn a point for staying on task? Why or why not? Regina?” says Perry.

At the end of every class before students are dismissed, they go over their goals, which are spelled out in a social contract they all wrote and all signed.

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Government & Politics
5:46 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

California Supreme Court Says Cities Can Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Medical marijuana advocates rally on a lawn near the Capitol after the California Supreme Court ruled cities and counties can ban dispensaries within their borders.
Credit Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

California’s highest court has come down on the side of cities and counties in the fight over the location, or even the existence, of medical marijuana dispensaries. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento. 

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Government & Politics
12:56 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

New California Prison Plan 'Best of the Bad Options'

Avenal State Prison
Credit CA Dept of Corrections

“The best of the bad options”. That’s how the Department of Corrections is characterizing its plan to reduce prison overcrowding in California. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

More inmates will be sent to lower security fire camps, some elderly and sick prisoners will be paroled early, additional beds will be leased from county jails. Those are among the measures California is proposing to further reduce prison overcrowding.

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Environment
5:16 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

New Study Examines Collapse of Honey Bee Colonies

Credit USDA/EPA

The collapse of honey bee populations in the U.S. is the result of a number of factors, ranging from insects and diseases to pesticides, according to new study released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection agency.

The report says a parasitic mite is the single most destructive pest to bee populations, and is closely linked with what has come to be known as colony collapse disorder.

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Water
5:12 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

What Snow? Final Snow Survey Yields Dry Results

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The season’s final snow survey in California found what most expected – dry conditions. Snow surveyors found absolutely no snow on the ground at Phillips Station, nearly 7,000 feet up Echo Summit in the Sierras.

Water content in California’s snowpack is only 17 percent of normal, meaning a below average water supply this summer.

Frank Gehrke with the Department of Water Resources says despite that, most reservoirs are near normal levels for the date thanks to early winter storms.

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Environment
5:45 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Major CEQA Legislation Passes First Committee Test

Lawmakers are considering a number of bills that would change California’s Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. The more than 40-year-old law guides almost all development projects in the state.

The bill garnering the most attention passed its first legislative test today. Democratic Senate President pro Tem Darrel Steinberg’s bill would streamline some aspects of the environmental law.

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Education
4:14 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Brown's 'Principle of Subsidiarity' Draws Support - with an Asterisk

Mechanical engineering students at Monterey Trail High School in the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove participate in a computer-aided design drafting exercise.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

There’s a paradox in many of the reactions to Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to give California schools more flexibility on how they spend their state tax dollars.  There’s general support around the Capitol for breaking down the funding walls surrounding several dozen programs.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, everyone seems to have a favorite program they want to protect.

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Environment
3:26 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Brown Administration Sidesteps Controversial Delta Comments

Top Brown Administration officials wait to testify at a State Senate hearing on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. From left: Charlton Bonham (Director, Dept. of Fish & Wildlife), John Laird (Secretary of Natural Resources) & Mark Cowin (Director, Dept. of Water Resources).
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers who represent the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region are seething over recent comments from Governor Jerry Brown’s point man on the state’s proposed water delivery tunnel project.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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